A stated goal of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Five-year Plan for Wisconsin 2018-2022 is: Stronger engagement of public libraries with their communities and utilization of data to actively adapt to community needs. The objective of this goal is to increase awareness of community engagement as critical to public library sustainability and to provide training and resources to facilitate effective community engagement practices of libraries with their local communities.
The project stems from a multi-year initiative by DPI’s Division for Libraries and Technology. Per A Report on Findings from the Public Library Community Engagement Needs Assessment, the state will provide training for library directors/staff and municipal/community partners to enable success in these critical aspects of the library’s community engagement initiative. The learning cohort will participate in:
- Preparing library staff, library trustees, municipal leaders and community partners for community engagement efforts;
- Collecting community needs, wants and aspirations;
- Creating and building sustainable community partnerships;
- Hiring staff and nurturing a staff culture conducive to engagement;
- Planning and carrying out programs and/or services in response to community engagement initiatives;
- Measuring the success of community engagement activities; and
- Locating and leveraging demographic information about communities served.
The result of the 18 month training is a new cadre of library leaders trained in current community engagement techniques, with clear understanding of the demographics and aspirations of the communities served, and a plan that turns that knowledge into action. For the participants the training will result in:
- Public libraries inspired to participate in greater community engagement resulting in increased effectiveness of resources allocated to meeting community needs on a local level.
- Thorough understanding of community needs and future aspirations from stakeholders, including but not limited to: local populations; underserved communities; partner agencies; and municipal employees.
- Strong understanding of current community-based planning strategies in the library field and related fields.
- Development and evolution of program and service offerings that serve community aspirations and needs.
- Deeper understanding and improved relationships and services to communities and individuals who are typically underserved, underrepresented and underrecognized within the community.
Additional program and application details available in November 2019.